Student Experiences

Shannen Sigman:  “As an Asian American born in and adopted from China, traveling back to the country has always been a desire of mine. The China Retail Study Tour trip not only allowed me the opportunity to visit my home country, but also allowed me to gain valuable contacts and learn about the operations of domestic and international companies. My three-week China experience through the University of Florida’s Retail Study Tour is definitely unforgettable in both positive aspects and ones that I am not as enthusiastic about, but as a whole is momentous. My favorite city throughout all six that we traveled to would have to be Hong Kong. It was our first stop on our tour, and despite the rain and humidity, it was easily the best in my opinion…” Read more

Kevin Ren:  “Ben and I arrived in Hong Kong at night; we were flying for nearly 24 hours and left not-quite at night. Time zones really change how you feel, but neither of us had jetlag so we weren’t tired enough to just go to sleep upon arrival. When we got into the bus to drive to the hotel, the first thing I noticed was how similar to America Hong Kong really was. It reminded me of driving to Tampa from home and the highways back in America. In Hong Kong they drive on the left side of the road, a sign of past influences from the old British Empire, so getting out of the bus we had to walk around the bus since the bus door was on the other side of the bus. There’s a bridge that goes to the mainland and the skyline of Hong Kong was phenomenal. It looked like it could be New York. Nathan Road is named after one of the higher ranking people in the Hong Kong government. It’s cool that they named a road after important people, like how we have Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd…” Read more

Sue Sribunpheng:  “During our last dinner, someone mentioned that he could describe the China Retail Study Tour in one word, “invaluable.” Indeed, the trip was invaluable in various ways. The culture – no doubt every corner of China was a new adventure for me. There was always something to see, taste, admire, and experience. The people – although Chinese society has become more open, the people remember to carry forward their traditional virtues. From those I encountered, they were hospitable, modest, and polite. The business – the company visits provided a comprehensive overview of business operations and practices of small to multinational corporations. I realized that the true essence lies not only on the type of goods and services companies bring forth but also on the ability to navigate through cross-cultural aspects…” Read more

Cindy Aspilcueta:

“‘You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.’ -William Hazlitt

As the quote states, you learn more from something when you get the experience rather than by merely theory.  This class beyond offering us previous knowledge from indoor lectures, gave me the chance to get my hands into the actual business world. This was a lifetime opportunity that few people get to have as students…” Read more

Christine Lee:  “The China Retail Study Tour was a wondrous, eye-opening, and enlightening experience for me. In the short three-week period, I learned so much that it is a challenge to sum up or give an overview of what I learned and experienced to those who have asked me upon my return to the States in just a short period of time. From the company visits to the cultural landmark visits to our own individual free time excursions, we deposited so much material into our brains and notebooks, and filled our electronic devices with so many pictures that it feels as if we are opening up a realistic storybook when looking back. Throughout the trip, our class learned from numerous executives from various backgrounds, as well as from our instructors, tour guides, Chinese locals, tourists, and from each other. We visited many differently styled cities, seen many different lifestyles, and had all types of shopping and dining experiences that we can really say we have fully immersed ourselves into Chinese culture. Putting all the aforementioned pieces together, I believe that there is no better way to learn about international business, retail, international politics, language, culture, attitude, confidence, and life than going on a study abroad tour such as this…” Read more

Alex McDuffie:  “Three weeks, five cities, and over twenty company visits later, I finally arrived home from China. This whirlwind adventure will be something that I will never forget, and I am still in disbelief that it actually happened. I learned so much along the way, not only about international business, but also about myself. This was definitely the trip of a lifetime. After an extra long flight from LAX (we made an unscheduled stop in Tai Pei to refuel because of bad weather) we began our journey in Hong Kong. Hong Kong, a very westernized city, was an easy transition for us – coming from America. Our tour guide for the entire trip, Linda, met us at the airport with our Hong Kong city tour guide, Nick. This was the routine for each city – Linda would remain with us, while our city tour guide changed with each place that we visited. During our stay in Hong Kong, we were able to see well-known locations, such as Causeway Bay, Harbor City, and the light show at the Avenue of Stars. We also experienced our first company visits here, such as JCPenney Sourcing Office, Ocean Park and DFS. Each location allowed us to learn a variety of things…” Read more

Maria Rodriguez:  I cannot even begin to describe how impactful this time in China was for my academic and personal life, but I will start by saying that I came back extremely eager to learn, to experience, to explore, to change, to innovate, to give my best and to always keep improving. Paul Pei Executive Director at Ocean Park asked us, “How hungry you are?” I had never asked this question before to myself, but after these three weeks in China, I believe I have the answer. VERY HUNGRY! I think that this experience in China gave me a lot of motivation to not be afraid of getting out of my comfort zone and try new and challenging things.

When I took the decision to invest all the money that had been saving for almost four years on this trip, I would had never imagined that I was making the best decision of my entire life. As a business major I had previously learned about China and how this still developing country became a major player in the economy of the world during the last 10 years, I knew that in order to be successful in my future professional career I had to know what China was all about…” Read more

Bill Zhou:  This was a different summer, although I was going back to China as usual, there was more to it this time. I experienced a different side of China, a side that I am not familiar with, a side that will play a role in my future career. From May 10th to May 29th, I have had an eye-opening journey with the University of Florida China Retail Study Tour group. For three weeks, I traveled with a group of students who are not familiar with China. During this trip, we visited 6 different cities and 22 different companies. Our trip started in the south and made our way up to northern China. The cities we visited were Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing. All of the cities play a huge part in international business, from manufacturing the products to managing the people. This study tour was meaningful and life-changing…” Read More

Noah Zimmerman: “Summing up my past three weeks in China is quite the task. The UF China Retail Study Tour exposed me to so many new experiences that I will always remember and cherish in my heart. Although I have been fortunate enough to travel a fair bit before this trip, I had never been to anywhere in Asia and based my knowledge on pictures my parents have from a trip around the world from the late eighties. I do not say this lightly when I say how vastly different Asia appears now then it did in the eighties.

One of my first big realizations happened the moment we stepped off the plane in Hong Kong. Living in a globalized English language dominated world has made me accustomed to relying on everyone around me to speak my language. I remember trying to ask a man in English where to find the taxis and he looked at me without the faintest idea of what I was saying. I knew from that point forward that my ability to navigate this country would be very dependent on hand motions, my survival Chinese book, and my a lot of first hand discovery. What made the interaction even more amazing is that we were told in class that Hong Kong would be the most western feeling of the cities in China due to the previous British occupation…” Read more